Pittsburgh's Best Resource for Food Adventures
Archive for November 2010
Nov 29 2010
Now that Thanksgiving is over, I think we only have one more night of using up turkey day remains. Thank goodness for that! I need to move on to getting ready for Christmas and I am ready to pack up the pumpkins, Indian corn and the flashing turkey in my kitchen window (one with twinkly lights, not a creepy ”flasher” turkey.)
In case anyone is low on ideas this year, I’m going to give a list of my ten favorite products for gift giving or for keeping for yourself. All of my suggestions have something to do with a food or the kitchen or cooking although they are not all edible and they are in no particular order. And I just might list even more than ten. So many good things in Pennsylvania this year. Today, my pick is something – really anything – from Tait Farms, up in Centre Hall near Penn State. This little garden store also has the most delicious food products. Their apricot butter is great on toast, bagles or muffins, but it is equally satisfying eating right out of the jar. Their Lemon Vinaigrette is my husband’s favorite salad dressing. Even their scone mixes and rice blends are delicious. And the packaging is pretty. A big plus when it comes to gifting.
When I stopped by a few weeks ago, they were setting out some adorable angels, snowmen and other wintery figures that were covered with birdseed for your backyard friends this holiday season. These would be a perfect gift for anyone who likes to sit inside with a cup of tea and watch the birds go to town on some treats. If you’re in the State College area, drive a few miles out of town for a visit to Tait Farm. And if you have time to spare and can use some local wine for your holiday table, the Mt Nittany Winery is just a few miles away.
If you can’t get to Tait Farms, their products are also available at Whole Foods, the Fair Food stand at Reading Terminal Market and DiBruno Bros. in Philly, the Pounds Turkey Farm in Leechburg and a bunch of other places. Retail locations are listed on the website.
179 Tait Road
Centre Hall, PA 16828
800-787-2716 | 814-466-2386
Nov 21 2010
This weekend, I find myself gathering recipes for Thanksgiving dinner. I don’t enjoy cooking this meal . . sorry to admit it. . . because I get a little squeamish messing with a big raw bird and because family events kind of make me itch from the inside out. And it is so much work from beginning to end for such a short amount of enjoyment. Wow, I am sounding like a real grump. The big plus is that my girls will both be home and that makes any day a good one.
I’m interested in what dishes ALWAYS have to be on your Turkey Day Table. For years, we had that jelled cranberry sauce from a can because my grandmother liked it. Our stuffing never changes. If I try to take it up a notch by adding a new ingredient like sausage or fennel or whatever, there is a revolt. We always have pumpkin pie. Pumpkin roll or pumpkin cheesecake instead? No way!
So, tell me what dishes you have to have on your table this Thursday. And if there are stories behind the food, let me know that, too.
Have a great Sunday!
Nov 17 2010
I love food trucks, and by the increasing number of food trucks driving around in the last year, I guess I am not the only one. Los Angeles County alone has over 9,500 food trucks and when I am in New York, it seems as if there is a truck on every corner. Offering tacos, ice cream, falafel, Belgian waffles and even schnitzel. Pittsburgh has a few trucks, mostly in the Oakland area. Even the folks at Zagat have an interactive food truck finder and mobimunch.com allows you to type in your city and a type of food to find the location of the nearest food truck. Starting tomorrow, the Heinz Dip & Squeeze truck ( or maybe it’s a bus?) comes to the birthplace of Heinz Ketchup for a few days of free tastes of the red stuff . . oh, and free fries, too. The goal is to get folks to try the Dip & Squeeze. I must admit that, although I am not one to put ketchup all over everything on my plate like others in my house . . . meaning you, husband of 26.5 years . . I do get a little annoyed when the ketchup bottle on the picnic table or restaurant counter does not say Heinz on the label. Whether it’s the taste or just hometown pride, I prefer the Heinz brand. (Just so you readers know, I am not getting any free kechup or anything like that for the plug. It’s against my blogger rules of conduct.)
So here’s the scoop. The Heinz® Ketchup Road Trip, a mobile tour serving free Heinz Dip & Squeeze with a side of fries, will be stopping at numerous Pittsburgh locations from Thursday, November 18th through Sunday, November 21st. You can find the location of the truck by following them on Twitter @DipAndSqueeze. I don’t Twitter, so I’ll have to borrow someone else’s account to find the truck. After the first stop in this Heinz hometown, the Dip & Squeeze tour will travel to NYC, Philly and then Dallas. If my husband goes missing for a while, I will know where to find him. He’ll be a stowaway on the Dip & Squeeze Express!
Nov 15 2010
It was a dreary and windy day on the streets of Boston when I walked past a grand old hotel, the Omni Parker House. A little ding went off in my head, as with Thanksgiving coming up, Parker House rolls always seem to somehow make it on to the menu. Not sure why. Maybe it’s their ability to go with anything on the table or their knack for sopping up that last bit of gravy. So imagine my excitement (yes, really) when, to get out of the rain, I ducked into a bookstore, bought a few magazines, sat down for a cup of coffee and opened the November issue of Saveur magazine right to a recipe for Parker House Rolls. As I read, I found out that they originated at that very Parker House Hotel down the street! Who knew? (Probably lots of people, but not me.) So of course, I quickly downed my coffee and scurried up the street and into the lobby of the hotel to see if they still made the world famous rolls and if I could buy a few. Yes and yes. Within minutes, a half dozen warm Parker House rolls were delivered to my lap. I carefully protected them from the icy weather until I got back to my room. Tender and fluffy, with a distinct New England attitude, the rolls were an early Turkey Day treat. Now, for sure, the homemade version had to be a part of my menu for the 25th. The Saveur article stressed that barley malt syrup was an essential ingredient for the best possible rolls but I wasn’t sure where to find it. While driving home ( this is The Fork and The Road, not the Fork and the Airways), I spied a jar of the requisite sweetener during a detour to Fisher’s Country Store in Bedford, Pennsylvania, I spied a jar of the malt syrup. Now that I’ve been to the birthplace of the Parker House roll, I can’t wait to give them a special place on my Thanksgiving table.
Nov 7 2010
Confession: I love marshmallow in any form. Mallo Cups, chocolate covered marshmallows, the retro ValoMilk cup, and good ol’ grocery store marshmallows right out of the bag.
Imagine my excitement when the Pittsburgh Marshmallow Factory was open for business when I popped into the Pittsburgh Public Market this past Friday. I was getting ready for a trip to Boston for the American Dietetics Association annual meeting, but I just had to buy some of these large heavenly cubes even if they had to wait until I returned so I could eat them. (Yes, I am a registered dietitian and yes, I know marshmallows are pretty much nothing but sugar. I don’t care. I love them.)
The Bananas Foster flavor was the first one I tried ( they had small samples at the market) and the flavor was amazing. Then I sampled mint chocolate (yum), vanilla ( another yum) and pistachio ( yep, another yum.) These marshmallows are light and fluffy, lightly flavored and not gummy at all. I have payed top dollar for some artisanally made marshmallows that weren’t worth the money or calories, but these are something worth every penny. For more info, email the marshmallow ladies at email@example.com. I know my mallows will be waiting on the kitchen counter for me when I return and I can’t wait!
Nov 3 2010
In the name of research for my upcoming Tastings classes at the Pittsburgh Public Market, I have been investigating all of the amazing ethnic food in Pittsburgh’s little boroughs and suburbs. Great for my taste buds and bad for the zippers and buttons on my clothing. Yikes. This has to stop! Today’s adventure took me to the Bulgarian-Macedonian Center in the old steel mill town of West Homestead.
Already a fan of their homemade soup sales, called Soup Sega ( Sega means now in Bulgarian,) today I branched out into the Center’s Gyuvech (beef stew) and their Banitza ( little cheese filled strudels) and I also went home with a jar of Lutenica, a creamy roasted pepper spread. The Saturday soup sales are so popular, that now the soups are sold on Tuesdays through Thursdays from 10AM until 1PM, too. I had the privilege of meeting with board president Pat Penka French, who told me that this group is the oldest Bulgarian organization in the United States. They’re celebrating their 80th anniversary this year. We’re lucky to have people like Pat who work tirelessly, as volunteers, to continue these ethnic traditions for future generations. The Center is filled with memorabilia, musical instruments, costumes and other Bulgarian items, so while you are waiting for you soup ( it’s take-out), you can admire the items in the beautiful display cases. Customers can purchase Bulgarian pottery (I bought a mug, ) books and other gifts, too.
Upcoming events at the center include Password Love, an exhibition of paintings by Bulgarian artist, Georgi Petrov on November 11 and their annual fall concert at the Carnegie Library Music Hall in Homestead on November 20. For more info or to RSVP, call 412.461.6188 or visit their website. I love this place! Please visit. You will be hooked, too.
On my way back toward the Homestead Grays bridge, I made a quick turn into Nancy B’s Bakery to pick up a few of the city’s best chocolate chip cookies (according to Pittsburgh Magazine’s 2010 poll) for the drive home, hoping that another ten minutes on the exercise bike will help to burn off just a few of those calories. ( I think even two hours on that bike wouldn’t burn off the calories from those giant, soft cookies.)
If you are visiting the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area museum (which is very cool, by the way) in the historic Bost Building , a stop at these two foodie down the road is a must.
A food adventure might be sleuthing out the juiciest June strawberries at a farm market, learning about gone but not forgotten area food treasures, working with a chef during a hands on cooking class or touring Pennsylvania’s artisan cheesemaker’s farms (and meeting a few cows along the way) . . or any of a zillion other fun ways to explore foodie things within a day's drive of Pittsburgh.